why do dogs lick each other in the mouth

why do dogs lick each other in the mouth


Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other in the Mouth?

Understanding Canine Behavior

As a caregiver, it’s essential to understand the behaviors of your furry friends. One of the most common questions you may ask is: “Why do dogs lick each other in the mouth?” Dogs use their tongues and mouths for more than just eating and drinking. They can convey a range of emotions and intentions with this simple action.

The Pack Mentality

Dogs are pack animals, descended from wolves. This pack mentality influences much of their behavior.

  1. Submission: In a wolf pack, the subordinate wolves often lick the mouths of the more dominant pack members. This is a behavior that dogs have inherited. It’s a way of showing submission and recognizing the other dog’s higher status.

  2. Greeting: This can also be a form of greeting. Dogs pick up this behavior from their mothers when they are puppies.

Health Implications

While mouth licking is common and generally harmless, it’s important to keep an eye on this behavior as it may indicate health issues.

  • Dental problems: Dogs might lick each other’s mouths to investigate a strange smell or taste. This could be a sign of dental problems.
  • Nausea or digestive issues: Excessive licking can indicate that a dog is feeling nauseous or has digestive issues.
Signs to Watch Out For Potential Health Issue
Bad breath Dental problems
Excessive licking Nausea or digestive issues

Breaking the Habit

If you find the behavior bothersome or if it leads to fights between dogs, there are steps you can take to discourage it.

  • Distract the dogs when they begin to lick each other’s mouths.
  • Reward them for stopping the behavior.
  • Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if the problem persists.

The Bond of Affection

Despite potential issues, it’s important to remember that dogs often lick each other’s mouths as a sign of affection. They are social creatures, and this is one way they reinforce their bonds with each other.


Q: Is it normal for dogs to lick each other’s mouths?

A: Yes, it’s a common behavior in dogs, often related to pack mentality and showing affection.

Q: Should I stop my dogs from licking each other’s mouths?

A: If the behavior is excessive, causing fights, or indicating potential health issues, it would be best to discourage it.

Q: Can mouth licking indicate health problems?

A: Yes, mouth licking can sometimes indicate dental problems or digestive issues. If you notice excessive licking, it may be worth a visit to the vet.